Friday, March 14, 2008

Opening this weekend: 3/14/08

Sorry for my tardiness folks. This has been a hugely, hugely shitty week, filled with midterms, massive papers and other assignments of the like. Reviews merely weren't a possibility. Neil Marshall's "Doomsday" wasn't screened for critics-- I'll be first in line at the matinee showing tomorrow--- but I've offered short reactions on the other films opening today, just for those of you trying to figure out what to see this weekend:

"Funny Games" ( * * * 1/2)
Quick take: I've seen Michael Haneke's original German film and this is basically a shot-for-shot English language remake. Both are incredibly interesting, compelling works that take a real look at how we react to violence as entertainment and why. Like his original, the remake is a film that repeatedly, and intentionally, infuriates and off-puts its audience. Thusly, I can't think of many people I would recommend it to, nor do I have much of a desire to ever put myself through it again. Nonetheless, I think anyone who considers themself interested in what movies are capable of, and examining that, have no right not to see this. Unpleasant as it may be (and it is very), it's-- to put it mildly-- a hell of an experience.

"Horton Hears a Who" ( * 1/2)
Quick take: Most critics seem to be giving this one a pass, saying it's "cute" and pleasant, and excusing it on the basis that it's better than Mike Myers' "The Cat in the Hat." While that may be true-- a bad case of crabs is more pleasant than Mike Myers' "The Cat in the Hat"-- that doesn't really excuse the laziness and sub-par script on display here. While the movie's irritating nature eventually just tapers off into bland territory, that's not really something to be proud of. Jim Carrey's voice work is annoying and incongruous to the material, while Steve Carell is his usual charming self. There's an obscene amount of mediocre padding here, which is necessary I guess, considering the book was about 10 pages long. The animation looks very nice, and kids will enjoy it, but it struck me as relatively crappy and soulless, a denegration of the wonder and magic Dr. Seuss's words are capable of.

"Never Back Down" ( * * )

Quick take: Yeah, this fighting flick is about as dumb as you'd expect, but it's also decently fun for a good amount of its running time, and enjoyably homoerotic. That said, it's not really worth paying to sit through, but you could do worse if dragged. When it embraces its cheesy "let's fight!" bullshit, it's kind of entertaining, but too often it gets bogged down in character redemption, plot mechanics and striving for lame-ass resonance. You could do worse, but for real guilty-pleasure enjoyment, you'd be better off with "Step Up 2 the Streets."


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